GEORGIAN LANGUAGE AND SCRIPT

Georgian (ქართული ენა, kartuli ena) is the official language of Georgia. The language belongs to the Iberian - Caucasian group and there are three: Georgian, Svan and Mengrelo - Laz dialects.

Georgian alphabet is one of the 14 existing alphabets in the world. It consists of 33 letters. The majority of scientists believe that it was derived from one of the Semitic alphabets around the 6th - 5th centuries BC. The alphabet has been modernized during the centuries, but never lost the original roots. A Georgian historian informs us that the script was created in the 3rd c. BC by Georgian King Parnavaz. The mosaic inscription in the Judean desert in Palestine is known as the oldest Georgian inscription ever found. It dates back to the 433 AD. Bolnisi Sioni Church, situated south of Tbilisi, also has one of the oldest (493 AD) inscriptions in Georgian. The oldest manuscript (864 AD) is kept in St. Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula.

Georgian literature has an ancient and remarkable history. The oldest known literary work "The Martirdom of Shushanik" was written in 476 - 483 AD by Iakob Tsurtaveli.

"The Knight in the Panther Skin" created by Shota Rustaveli at the end of the 12th century is the most brilliant literary work in Georgian literature. The poem has been translated into different languages all around the world.



GEORGIAN LETTERS

Georgian is the primary language of about 3.9 million people in Georgia, (83 percent of the population), and of another 500,000 Georgians abroad (chiefly in Turkey, Iran, Russia, USA and Europe). It is a literary language for all ethnographic groups of Georgian people, especially those who speak other South Caucasian or Kartvelian languages, (Svans, Megrelians, and the Laz).

Gruzinic, or ‘Kivruli’, sometimes considered to be a separate Jewish language, is spoken by an additional 20,000 people in Georgia and 65,000 elsewhere (primarily 60,000 in Israel).

GEORGIAN ALPHABET

I: Asomtavruli ("capital") or Mrgvlovani ("rounded"): oldest alphabet
II: Nuskhuri ("minuscule") or Kutkhovani ("squared"), also Khutsuri ("church script"): mainly miniscules for Asomtavruli
III: Mkhedruli ("secular" or "military writing""): the modern alphabet
IV: names of the letters
V: numeric values of the letters
VI: Latin transcription

Note: Some letters (lavender rows in the table above) have become obsolete.

DIALECTS

The dialects of Georgian include Imeretian, Racha-Lechkhumian, Gurian, Ajarian, Imerkhevian (in Turkey), Kartlian, Kakhetian, Ingilo (in Azerbaijan), Tush, Khevsur, Mokhevian, Pshavian, Mtiuletian, Fereydan (in Iran), Meskhetian.